Grassroots Peace for Women Who Experience Violence in War (and how you can help)

by Kimberly Yim, guest blogger


On February 26, 2016, I will be traveling to DR Congo and Tanzania with an amazing group of women. Why? Because I have joined the One Million Thumbprints campaign and because I am going to climb a really big mountain! Before we start our climb, my team and I will meet women who are survivors of gender-based violence in DR Congo. I am humbled by the opportunity to hear and share their stories and to shed light on what it is really like to live in one of the worst places in the world to be a woman.

After meeting these courageous women, we will travel to Tanzania where we will hike Mt. Kilimanjaro. Mt. Kilimanjaro is famously known as the “Mountain of Light”. It is 19,000 feet in altitude and is the highest freestanding mountain in the world. It will be a physically, emotionally, and spiritually challenging feat.

We will summit carrying thumbprints we have gathered on March 8, 2016 – International Women’s Day.This powerful gesture is a way of aligning with the suffering of the women we advocate for, and offering prayers for peace for women in all areas of extreme conflict.

I find the campaign compelling as it gives all of us a way to support women and children in war zones. It is difficult to wrap my mind around the extreme violence millions of women experience in these countries. These women survive only to then endure devastating physical and psychological trauma as they are often left crippled, shamed, and ostracized from their communities. In DR Congo alone seven out of ten women have experienced sexual violence.

One Million Thumbprints is a grassroots campaign advocating on behalf of survivors of gender based violence in war zones, specifically DR Congo, South Sudan, and Syria/Iraq.

It is a two fold campaign:

1) Advocate to the United Nations and other governing bodies to follow through on resolutions and laws already passed that will protect women in conflict zones.

2) Raise funds for proven organizations already on the ground in these countries who are meeting practical needs of women (food, shelter, rape kits, trauma care), training local leaders in negotiation and peacebuilding (making sure women are represented), and providing sustainable long term solutions (such as micro businesses, refugee resettlement, educational needs).

One Million Thumbprints is rooted in the story of Esperance, a woman from DR Congo. She was raped and left to die after her husband was murdered at the hands of rebels who violently attacked her village. Esperance would have simply been another statistic if it wasn’t for her Congolese sisters who found her and brought her to receive the physical and psychological help she needed. Esperance’s story would have been left untold and her suffering unrecognized if it wasn’t for storyteller and founder of the One Million Thumbprint campaign, Belinda Bauman, who heard Esperanza’s story as a mandate to do something. After Esperance shared her story with Belinda, she gave Belinda permission to “share it with the world” by signing a permission form with her thumbprint, her only form of signature as Esperance cannot read or write.

Her thumbprint was a mandate to “tell the world my story.” And my IM Team is doing just that! One Million Thumbprints tells the world not only the story of Esperance but of millions like her.

Please join me in using your voice on behalf of these women and supporting the programs that protect, care, and empower women to be vital instruments of peace and rebuilding in their communities.

Join my team! Click here to offer your support  to our One Million Thumbprints.

To Kilimanjaro and beyond!


Kimberly Yim is the director of the SOCO Institute, the charitable arm of The SoCo Group, an oil distribution company in Southern California. As the author of Refuse To Do Nothing: Finding Your Power to Abolish Modern Day Slavery, Kim is compelled to do her part in ending all forms of modern day slavery and is passionate about helping the everyday citizen use his or her voice to do the same. She is the founder of the San Clemente Abolitionists, serves on the board of the Global Center For Women and Justice at Vanguard University, and serves on the Foreign Affairs Chair, Congressmen Ed Royce’s Human Trafficking Congressional Advisory Committee. She lives in her hometown of San Clemente, California with her husband, John and their two children, Malia and Scotty.

Give God Your 40 Days


Today deep in the midwest temperatures are in the single digits and the windchill hovers at -3. Sunlight cuts through the icy air glaring off piles of snow.  My friend and I walk along the sidewalk of our hometown carrying coffee cups and bundled from head to toe in layers of boots, puffy fur-lined coats, scarves and hats. Despite conditions that most humans would deem uninhabitable, we barely even recognize the weather to one another except to quip that this will not last.

Living in the midwest one witnesses the inevitable changing of seasons each year. We have severe winters, lovely springs, life-giving summers and brilliant autumns. Whether it be the seasons of Creation or the seasons of our lives, it is a universal and merciful rhythm that all seasons come and go. Some roar in as violent storms doing unspeakable damage and leaving bitter swaths of desolation, loss and pain. Some start quietly, such as those seasons when the toil of clean up from violent storms changes unannounced to a quiet season of healing, calm and blue sky.

Today is Ash Wednesday marking the Lenten season is upon us. Lent is the period of 40 days which begins on Ash Wednesday and concludes on Easter. It is a time of personal examination and collective transformation through spiritual practices such as prayer, self-examination, study, personal retreat, and fasting. Lent is a contemplative time built in to the church calendar. A season of reflection designed for personal change. Today’s reading in a Lenten Journal reminds me:

“It rained for forty days and forty nights as Noah waited out the flood, trusting in Gods’ word.

Moses was on the mountain with God for forty days, returning with the Law and the reminder of gratitude for all that God provided.

Jesus fasted for forty days in the wilderness, and facing Satan with faith and knowledge to worship the Lord your God and serve Him only.

Consider devoting this Lenten season, your forty days, not to resisting temptations created by denial, but to trusting and thanking God. Trust God and thank God by serving Him as he serves you: unannounced and unconditionally.”

Just as this morning when I accepted the reality of the day and set my chin into the wind and kept walking, kept living, this Lenten season I want to keep moving and keep looking forward — to keep my head up, my eyes wide open, and my heart receiving. In this inner space, this inner season that Lent creates, I want to choose gratitude over nagging negative remembrances of pain that chase me down relentlessly. I want to choose kindness over self, honesty over fear, and to trust and love God — which always translates to a deep trust and love of self.  To fast from negative thoughts which do not serve me, others, or God and to hold every thought captive to Christ is a Lenten undertaking I have tried before and one I know I cannot do on my own. I’m setting the intention to give Him my forty days.

Why Disaster Relief Matters. The Philippines, Hagupit, and Haiyan


Kim patiently rested her hand on Irma’s shoulder leaning in to catch every word. Irma was speaking emphatically with tears in her eyes. I nodded with empathy. I was very moved by words my ears did not understand but which broke my heart.

A few weeks ago I traveled to the Philippines with a group of World Vision bloggers to see firsthand how World Vision has come alongside families and individuals recovering from super typhoon Haiyan that devastated the island of Leyte and Tacloban City one year ago. Haiyan was the strongest typhoon ever recorded and it took almost 7000 lives and left 1.5 million people homeless.

While in the Philippines I visited a World Vision ADP (Area Development Project). The day we visited a sewing class was underway. Typhoon Haiyan not only took lives and homes it took many livelihoods. The rural people survive by working in coconut tree farms or rice fields. Most of the coconut trees were blow over or damaged in the devastating winds of Haiyan. It is estimated it will take 10 years to recover a new coconut crop and the rice fields flooded and are damaged.

Kim, Irma, Jennifer and I sat on plastic chairs in a quiet hallway. Irma wanted to tell her story — a story of unspeakable fear and amazing survival. Often Kim, our translator, had to politely stop Irma so she could translate. I knew I was only getting a tiny bit of the whole story yet her face, body language, and her very being told a story in itself. She looked ninety and was probably in her sixties. Rural life in the Philippines is a hard life.

Irma had been in her home, probably a 10 x 10 foot structure, when Haiyan hit. It came too early. Everyone believed it would make landfall at 9:00 AM but it sped up during the night and slammed into the Philippines at 5:00 AM. People were unprepared. The winds were so strong Irma’s home immediately collapsed onto her, her husband, and their two grandchildren. Through tears Irma describes sheer fear and panic.

She explained, “The boards, the roof, they were all on top of us. We couldn’t move. I kept telling my husband we needed to leave. I could hear the trees falling down all around us and I was afraid one would fall and crush us. I said we needed to get to the rice fields because there are no trees. He thought that was crazy and had to drag me away from the opening. We then crawled under what remained of our eating table.”

“The storm stopped or so we thought. But it was they eye. We didn’t know what an eye was. So my husband left to check on our two cattle. He shouted back they were both dead. Then the winds came again and he could not get back to us. He clung to the trunk of a coconut tree. We could see him wave every now and then.”

As Kim translated this dramatic and scary story tears streamed down Irma’s face. It is amazing everyone she was with survived but her son in law in the next village was hit by a falling tree and died that day. Irma was overcome with emotions of gratitude that World Vision had come to her aid in providing shelter and that now she was learning dressmaking. She was a survivor and she was proud and it was an honor to hear her story.

Tomorrow super typhoon Hagupit is due to hit the Philippines exactly one year since super Typhoon Haiyan. My heart is breaking for these brave and resilient people. Haiyan was a destroyer. The poorly built homes were flung around like twigs as were bodies and livestock. And the people recovered. They cleaned up. They buried their families and friends. It was only a year ago, and although the Filipino’s are some of the most joyous and pure spirited people I have met, the pain is still palpable. It is everywhere. In every face. In every home.

Typhoon Haiyan

(street view after super typhoon Haiyan 13 months ago)

Hagupit, or as it is called in the Philippines “Ruby” is due to hit tomorrow. Pray with me these people are spared.

And we can do something tangible. This brings me comfort in the face of such worry and concern. Support the work of World Vision in the Philippines. It is nothing short of amazing what was accomplished in a short time with relief and recovery after typhoon Haiyan.

Here is how World Vision is preparing for super typhoon Hagupit:

– Prepositioned 5,000 kits containing items like food, water and hygiene items for rapid initial response.
– Prepositioned supplies including tarps, water purifiers, and solar lamps for families still living in tents following Haiyan
– Produced and distributed thousands of emergency preparedness handouts to families. These explain where to evacuate, what to take along, emergency contact numbers, etc.

Join me in prayer and in supporting the work of World Vision’s Disaster Relief Fund.



Typhoon Haiyan Recovery; First Impression


“It looked like a bomb went off.” Andrew Rosauer explains, leaning forward on his make shift folding table desk. Andrew is the World Vision Recovery Director for Typhoon Haiyan. While others flee disaster zones, or watch on screens from the safety of their homes, Andrew has always gone straight to the chaos. He has been working disaster relief for over 20 years, most recently in South Sudan, and leaves for Syria early next year.

While chatting in his third floor office in Tacloban City and gazing out over palm trees and bustling streets it is hard to imagine the scene only one year ago.

Tacloban City is the largest city on Leyte Island in the Philippines. Typhoon Haiyan, or as the locals call it, Typhoon Yolanda, was the largest recorded typhoon to ever hit this region. The Philippines are a dizzying puzzle of islands and bays. The people make their livelihood primarily through fishing and the farming of rice and coconut. And although many were aware the storm was coming the emergency preparedness was inadequate against this super typhoon.

Strong winds ripped apart the simply constructed homes. Locals explain the biggest issue for those making their living from the sea and who live right at the waters edge was the unexpected seven foot storm surge Yolanda delivered. It terrifyingly swept away life, property, and everything in its path.

6,100 people lost their lives during Typhoon Haiyan, with over 1000 people still missing. Andrew expresses surprise the numbers were so low crediting the government for getting many out of harm’s way. However, it is the estimated 13 million dollars in damage and the 14 million people affected that have left an obvious mark and a permanent wound on this peaceful island.

Andrew works disaster relief in some of the hardest places in the world. He has seen people at their darkest times of desperation, loss, and pain. “The Filipinos have a desire to do it themselves. They want to work hard and they want to help each other. Their spirit has made recovery efforts go very well. We are able to do things here we cannot do in other places. We are in the communities and constantly talking to the people about what they need and what works and how we can do it better.”

My first impression of Tacloban is one of introspection. I am moved by the visceral sense of peace, faith, and hope amidst the shells of structures that once were homes or shops—amidst the stories of unthinkable and tremendous loss.

While driving to dinner the area’s grounding faith is evidenced. At dusk our small van creeps through a narrow road in the slum next to where we are staying. I see a group of people gathering tight against a building. As we pass, a man standing behind a table set up in the doorway raises his arms – it is the eucharist.

Today my team heads into the field to meet more of these kind-hearted and faithful people and to hear stories of their courageous lives of resilience.

I am in the Philippines with World Vision USA and a group of writers and bloggers to cover the ongoing emergency response and recovery to Typhoon Haiyan.

Adventure With a Mission. My Favorite Kind.

It’s here. I’m just about to head to Chicago O’hare to embark on an adventure with a World Vision team of bloggers, writers, and other members of the press. This adventure is my favorite kind. For starters, I am flying to a destination I have never traveled to before, Tacloban, an island in the Philippines. Meeting new people and experiencing new cultures has always been an innate joy of mine — maybe really a need. I love to travel in general, however, what compels me this trip to fly for over a day and leave my family is it’s unique mission. I’m visiting this region to talk to, and to see for myself, what life is like for mothers and children and families just like my own who survived with nothing but their lives from Typhoon Yolanda.

Typhoon Haiyan

One year ago, on Nov. 8, 2013, Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) created widespread devastation in some of the poorest areas in the Philippines, claiming the lives of at least 6,300 people, with more than 1,000 people still reported as missing. It was one of the largest storms ever recorded.

Overall, 14.1 million people were affected, 5.9 million of this number being children. And an alarming 4.1 million people have been displaced.  1.1 million homes were destroyed. World Vision is one of the leading humanitarian agencies responding to the destruction caused by the typhoon. World Vision’s goal is to strengthen the resilience and self-recovery of typhoon-affected communities, with a focus on children. To date, World Vision has reached more than 766,000 people. By the end of the response, WV will have reached more than 1,000,000 beneficiaries with much needed aid.

Quick World Vision facts:

• More than 760,000 people have been reached, to date

• More than 57,000 people have participated in cash-for-work programs

• 51,000 people have benefited from temporary shelter kits

• 26,000 beneficiaries have benefited from tools and medical supplies at local health facilities around nutritional assessment • Equipment for obstetric and maternal care has also been provided to health facilities, so far assisting close to 5,000 people

• More than 3,300 people have benefited from extensive repair and reconstruction work to health centers and stations

• 1,500 people have benefited from livelihoods training, another 13,500 planned in coming months

• Close to 900 of the most vulnerable have had new homes constructed

• In the relief phase, more than 890 adults were taught the principles of psychological first aid, to be able to provide support for those experiencing distress

Thanks for reading and for following along with me as I explore this wounded and recovering area of the world. I am sure I will see things that will break my heart and things that will cause me distress as I am confronted with crippling need. I suspect I will also be surprised with a bit of beauty, joy, and friendship.

Q & A with author Margaret Ann Philbrick

Yesterday I finished reading the debut novel by author Margaret Philbrick and I am happy to recommend it as a touching and inspiring summer read. I am honored to be in a Redbud Writers Guild manuscript group with Margaret and I had the unique opportunity to see this project in various forms.

It is always moving to see a project birthed. Margaret is an inspiring writer and person. Enjoy her interview below and be sure to read A Minor, A Novel of Love, Music and Memory. 


1. What inspired you to spend four years working on A Minor?

My children all play the piano, and our oldest son’s teacher requested that a parent sit in on the lessons and take notes. We would then review with him during the following week. As he moved on to college, I was left with a notebook full of wisdom that needed to be shared, but I didn’t have the framework for an idea. While I was having lunch in South Haven, Michigan, I started talking to my husband about what it would be like for a concert pianist to lose his or her memory. That question took me on a one year research journey to find the answer.

2. How did you go about your research?

I started with Oliver Sacks because he is one of the most well-known neurologists in the field. I read his books and watched YouTube videos of him talking about his patients.  His work led me to many other experts and their writings. Once I completed that investigation, I embarked on several more months of research into the life of a concert pianist. Howard Reich’s biography of Van Cliburn was one of the most helpful. Also, I interviewed many people who had been touched by dementia and Alzheimer’s. Once I assessed all the research, I knew there was a story to mine out of that mountain.

3.  Are you a musician yourself?

While in high school, I was a serious flute student and was accepted into a college conservatory, but my  parents were moving toward a  divorce at the time and I wanted to get as far away from their situation as possible. Instead, I became an English Literature major in Texas, which is why I have wrinkles today. I spent a lot of time lying out in the sun and reading novels.

4. Can you name a few of your favorites?

I tend to think about this question as a list of the books I wish I would have written. The first ones that come to mind are: Jane Eyre, Georg Eliot’s The Mill on the Floss, all books by Milan Kundera and Gabriel García Márquez, and recently my neighbors’ books—The Aviator’s Wife by Melanie Benjamin and Sing For Me by Karen Halvorsen Schreck. I also adored Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys. For teaching, I read a lot of classic YA novels. My favorite this year was Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Black Arrow.

5.  Talk about your creative process. How did you write the book?

I’m a pretty insecure writer having been a Lit major and constantly reading books that I feel are beyond my own creative abilities. I actually think this is a good thing because I relied on the discipline of prayer before I sat down to write each day, knowing I couldn’t do this project alone. I’d spend time asking the Lord for creativity, original thought, wisdom, memory, whatever I needed to write the next ten pages. I’m disciplined when I get into a project, so I would write every day and then revise the next day what I wrote the day before and then move on. I always set goals for myself—another ten pages, finish the chapter. As I’d move along, another piece of research would be required, and I’d go off on a tangent for a day or so and then come back to the writing.

6. Did you use the notebook from your son’s piano lessons?

Oh, definitely. In many ways the voice of the main character is the voice of my son’s teacher. There are aspects of her in the work that I’m sure she’ll recognize when she reads it, like her clogs. She always wears these precarious, high-heeled wooden clogs. I’ve never known anyone to wear shoes like this in the summer with bare feet. She’s a fascinating conundrum.

7.  Your book has some unique features, like a Discussion Guide in the back and recorded music in the ereader that anyone can hear while they are reading and live links to other resources. How did all that happen?

Well, I love Koehler Books because they are open to thinking outside the box of what a book can be. When I created A Minor, I thought about the music first. If you were only listening to the story, what would it sound like? Then I outlined all the musical works, and I’d listen to them while writing. It was important that the music told the story as well if not better than the words. Eventually, the idea came to me that I wanted the reader to have the same experience. Koehler Books was open to partnering with me in creating that experience. My husband, who is a lawyer, was an enormous help as well. The Discussion Guide is for the classroom or book clubs. As a teacher, it comes naturally for me to ask questions so people can learn more. The live links send the reader to the places where they can get help with memory issues in their own family or even for themselves.

8.  One of your questions in the Discussion Guide addresses the importance of the protagonist maintaining the innocence of her protégé even though she could have taken advantage of him. Why did you decide to go that way and do you think American culture has lost its innocence?

Clare knows that the purity of Clive’s imagination is tantamount to his artistic interpretation of the works; it is a competitive advantage he has and a winsome one. She chose to not compromise that advantage. Yes, the loss of innocence in American culture is negatively affecting the power of our imagination and ultimately our innovation, which has always been an edge for us. When everything is openly revealed it hinders our ability to create, to make pictures for ourselves and interpret through the lens of what we know and experience. Dean Koontz has just written a novel that addresses this beautifully. It’s called Innocence. Making the choice to maintain one’s innocence and even more altruistically, the innocence of another, is expanding the pure heart of the child in all of us, and that is a great gift.

9. What were some of the disappointments along the way to getting published?

Oh, all the “noes” that had been so close to being “yeses”—I never cared about the folks who were too busy to respond, but the ones where I had provided the entire manuscript and even changed things upon their request all to be told “no” months down the road. Those were tough, but I always believed in the story and knew there was a home out there waiting to bring it to life. I remember sitting on the edge of Lake Michigan, crying and praying that God would give my story a home. A few weeks later, He did.

10. Is it hard to raise a family and write a novel?

I can say my writing drives my kids crazy. My youngest son calls me the “bat.” Sometimes he comes home from a piano lesson, and I’ll be at my desk in the dark, writing by the light of the screen, too engaged to turn on any lights in the house. I try to write when they’re not at home, during the school day. It’s definitely not good for them if they feel like my “callings” are taking the place of them. Sometimes I’ve had to drop everything or step away from a project entirely, but raising children is a very short season and hopefully, I can write for the rest of my life.

11.  What would your advice be to someone hoping to write their first novel or write anything for that matter?

Know your purpose, why you are writing what you are writing, and stay tethered to that vision. Write for the joy of creating and do not allow yourself to think about publishing, which is such a distraction, until you’re done. Then let your work simmer for a while. Take long walks and think about it.  Do you still love it? If you do, pray and turn it over to God. Ask Him to reveal the next step and then trust him to do so.  In the Redbud Writers Guild, we embrace the truth of Psalm 37:5:

“Commit your way to the Lord, trust in him and he will do this.”

Go at it with God. Writing is too lonely to do alone.

A Free Give-Away and Making Music for Good


While growing up I loved music. I sang along with every album and cassette. I collected new and interesting artists. I was the master of the mix tape. I followed new artists, classic artists, alternative and punk bands. My first album was Billy Joel Glass Houses (I still have it) and my first CD was (bizarrely) Bing Crosby’s Christmas album. Yet I loved theater and I sat in front of the record player (yes, vinyl) reading and singing along to Jesus Christ Superstar, Godspell, Oklahoma, South Pacific. 

The first concert I attended was Amy Grant Straight Ahead tour. The concert was at The Odeum in Villa Park, IL. I was in eighth grade and I knew every word to every song and sang along at the top of my lungs. I was *that* girl who loved all the new Christian rock becoming popular in the 1980’s.

This past year has been a blur of activity with family and life yet in the midst of it all an album of praise, thanks, journey, and honesty has emerged. A quiet, life-long desire to create music became a reality. It was slow and easy. Writing songs with a friend and recording at a studio tucked in the heart of my home town. There was much grace and humor. It was a uniquely creative process and I recieved the *cool* experience of being an Independent Artist.


I am deeply indebted to my friend and co-producer, Bill Acuna. Bill is the co-author, guitarist, musician, and artistic mind behind the album. We collaborated on lyrics and melody and then Bill masterfully created each song, building the arrangement and creating the layers of art.

I feel blessed to have had the opportunity to author two books and a third forthcoming with Intervarsity Press. I have been able to publish books about what burns in my heart — educating myself and others about injustices in the world and what the everyday person can do to make a difference.

This year Bill and friends enabled me to create music that is inspired by these same things — what burns in my heart, my faith, and my work in justices causes such as the HIV/AIDS pandemic is sub-Saharan Africa and the atrocity of modern-day slavery. I believe we all can make a difference in the world no matter who we are or where we are and I write song to inspire change.

I know the challenge of managing a home and the desire to make a difference for those who are suffering. As a full-time mother of three, I have journeyed from insular suburban world into the arena of global advocacy, writing books and making music. Using the power of story, I hope my music inspires people everywhere to start right where they are and make a difference.

This is a simple album and from the heart. The collection of 12 original songs cover topics ranging from family, God, dreams, broken hearts, doubt, faith and thanksgiving. Enjoy!

GIVE AWAY: Leave a comment below on the blog or inbox me on Facebook to enter a drawing for a free CD. Thanks for reading and listening. Together we make a difference!



Writing With a Broken Heart


“God loves YOU!” The large purple billboard seemed to yell at me as I drove past. An unexpected addition to the Northwoods roadside. Normally, I might have smiled or ignored it entirely but today the radio also seemed to be trying to get my attention with this simple yet often unfathomable imperative: God loves you.

I teared up and thanked God making a mental note to add this experience to my chapter entitled “Signposts.” Sometimes God is mysterious, silent and seems hidden and sometimes He is literal and in our faces — if we are looking.

The past few weeks I have been tucked away at our cabin in the Northwoods with the intention of working on the manuscript for my third book. I have organized it. Reorganized it. Read the already written chapters over and over and I have yet to add one new word to the book. I feel paralyzed. Not from writer’s block or fear or busyness (I truly have nothing to do here but the chores I create to do).

What surfaced while receiving God’s love driving alone through the deep woods — I am paralyzed by a broken heart.

This year our family has taken many hits. We can’t seem to get to safe harbor, the wide-open spaces of calm with no crisis or conflict. I’m not a young woman. I know life is hard for everyone. I’ve seen what life is like for women and children in unthinkable poverty and disease, abuse and oppression. I am no stranger to life on life’s terms. I understand storms will violently hit and we must weather them. I know these storms do not last forever. There are still waters ahead. Yet even while nestled in the woods next to a calm lake the roar of life’s stresses seems unrelenting. In my husband’s and my life, and in our children’s. We are thankful we have each other and we know under it all, all things pass, that in Him all things are made new.

Yet we are only human and sometimes, if not our faith, our resilience in faith, is challenged. We are not quite there and we are still on the journey — climbing the mountain, fighting the Orks, having boulders thrown at us, getting lost while darkness and storms threaten us and those we love. We’ve lost trusted friends and journeymen. Pain, abandonment, betrayal and death are real and the journey is hard.

I’m a housewife and a writer. A mom and a career volunteer. On the outside my life may not look as dramatic as Bilbo Baggin’s or Harry Potter’s yet is not that the point of those wonderful tales? The journey rages within and it must continue. As those myths help internalize, I have come to believe the secret to continuing, to keep moving, is to remember where I am going. What is my quest? Who is with me? Who has left me and why?

Ultimately, it is my journey. Only I choose to keep me moving, wounded and tired, but still climbing. I challenge myself to believe the signs when I am told God loves me. I gather my shaky faith and knees and get up… again. In pain, I take another step despite feeling paralyzed and despite believing I have nothing to say from such a broken place. I don’t slay an Ork or fight off a Dementor. I sit my bottom in the chair and I learn to write with a broken heart.




Looking For Water From A Deeper Well

“I do not think happiness has its source in the heart at all. It arises in a much more interior part, like something of which the springs are very deep; I think this must be the center of the soul.” –Teresa of Avila, Interior Castles

This summer I am beginning the process. I am starting the manuscript for my third book. The content of this new project will take me to places I have never been before. I suspect the creation of this book will challenge and stretch me as a writer and storyteller as never before.

I have tried to be silent with this project, allowing it to germinate and to form itself. It is not something I wish to force or be contrived. On some level I have a healthy fear of this project and the honesty it will require. I have set the intention to dig deep, find the book, and let it flow.

Years ago I had a dream. In it I am walking over a hill. The kind of rise only created in the subconscious. I am nowhere and yet I am not lost. There is nothing and no one around. I am alone in the foggy, colorless scene and I hear a voice calling my name with great anticipation saying, “Shayne, Shayne, it’s drawing! It is coming! It is Ancient!”

I hungrily peer over the rise from the ground on which I am standing and I see it: a deep crevice in the ground. I see a well.

If dreams are messengers, I woke wondering the message of this dream and immediately consulted my Bible and the passage of Isaac camping in the Valley of Gerar. The ancient text tells the story of wells Isaac’s father, Abraham, dug during his lifetime. Historically wells represent ownership and rights to the land. Although the Philistines had pledged loyalty to Abraham, out of jealousy, they maliciously fill in the wells, and attack by throwing dirt and debris into them causing distress.

In Genesis, upon moving back to the Valley of Gerar, Isaac redigs the wells of his father. With each well he reclaims and cleans out he finds fresh, spring water and has hope to settle and be at peace. Yet, with the first well the shepherds of Gerar quarrel with Isaac’s men so Isaac names this well Esek (Quarrel).

Isaac moves on. His servants dig a second well and again find spring water but there is a fight over this one, too. Isaac names it Sitnah (Accusation or Hatred).

Isaac again chooses to move on and to not fight and his men dig a third well. There is no quarreling or accusation attached to this well and so he names it Rehoboth (Wide-Open Spaces) saying, “Now God has given us plenty of space to spread out in the land.”

God appeared to him that very night and said, “I am the God of Abraham your father; don’t fear a thing because I am with you. I’ll bless you and make your children flourish because of Abraham my servant.”

These verses caught my spiritual imagination. Could my dream have been directing me to the truth of finding an ancient, interior well deep within me named Wide-Open Spaces?

In the scriptures wells, or “springs of living water” as they were called, were a sign of God’s grace and blessing. Water represented life itself. Did my dream reveal such life? The reality of an interior place of no quarreling or accusations. A place of promise, blessing and deep peace. A wide-open space in the center of my soul.

As I embark on this journey of finding the book inside me, I am reminded of my dream and these ancient stories and promises. I am reminded of the quote from Teresa of Avila. I don’t want to write a “happy” book from my heart. I want to write a book originating in the center of my soul. I want to throw off fear, quarrels, strife and dig farther letting truth and honesty flow in my words. Healing and peace. Groundedness and intention.

As I write this summer I want clean, living water. I want to throw off external things and people that clog the inner well, my interior spring, the center of me where there is no fear and where God blesses.

Or as Emmy Lou Harris sings in one of my favorite songs, “I am looking for water from a deeper well.”

*Originally posted at Redbud Writers Guild blog. Visit our site and meet all our members!